Sharp rise predicted in global assignments as organisations try to plug skills gaps, says PwC research

PwC research predicts that the number of workers taking on global assignments is set to increase by 50% in the next decade as companies re-think where their talent needs to be based to fulfill their growth ambitions.

PwC’s ‘Talent Mobility: 2020 and beyond’ report, based on data from 900 global companies, discloses that companies will need to offer new forms of global mobility to respond to skills shortages, changing business needs and employee preferences.

Gerald Seegers, PwC Director of Human Resources for Southern Africa, says: “Many companies are facing the reality that they don’t have the right talent in the right places to fulfill their global growth ambitions. Skills gaps in overseas markets, the changing business world and preferences of a new generation of employees will force many organisations to increase global mobility opportunities for their staff.

“The era where assignments meant a three or four year relocation is coming to an end. New forms of global mobility are developing in response to business demands and employee preferences, many of which don’t involve relocation at all. Long-distance commuting, virtual mobility, project-based and assignee-led projects are all set to become the norm. These will offer greater flexibility for both employers and employees and should help to reduce global mobility costs.”

According to the research, only 1% of people are now doing traditional assignments which involve three years in a different country and then returning home. The number of mobile workers, including long-distance commuters (who spend a week or two at a time in another country), has increased and now account for around 8% of the working population. The research disclosed that the average length of a posting has now dropped to 18 months and the number of women taking on global assignments is predicted to increase. Women are projected to make up over a quarter of all assignees by 2020.“Our research shows that South African CEOs are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit skilled workers in their various industries. Local CEOs see the lack of skills as a major challenge to the growth of their businesses.”

Africa has become one of the major battlegrounds for large multinationals. The strong growth in Africa has exacerbated a skills shortage, and managerial and specialist workers are in short supply.

Danae Bentley, PwC South Africa’s Global Mobility specialist, predicts additional challenges for companies relocating people into and around Africa “Africa presents unique challenges for a company’s global mobility program. Understanding these challenges is difficult as there is a significant lack of data available in regards to global mobility policies and programs here. Most global research does not incorporate enough African representation and therefore does not reflect the maturity and specific GM challenges that HR faces on the African continent.” PwC will shortly release the first African Global Mobility Survey. It will provide participating companies with unprecedented insight into current and predicted trends specific to this region.

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Sanchia Temkin

Senior Manager, PwC South Africa

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